January 10, 2000
The May Report
by Ron May
The May Report: 1/10/2000: Test run; Flip, Red Herring cover; Crain’s & Crabb.
Special TEST run:
In the world of computers we take things for granted. It the system is
working, we don’t even notice it and we assume that such a condition is to be
Last week, I sent out four articles:
The first went out at 6:45 p.m. on Wednesday, January 5th.
The second went out at 6:08 a.m. on Friday, January 7th and that contained
the calendar summary.
The third went out about 10:12 a.m. Friday morning, January 7th, and that
contained the story of U-Access getting $17.5MM and the rest of the details
of the calendar.
The fourth went out at 5:34 p.m. on Friday, January 7th and that contained
various items and was entitled “Odds and Ends; more on Zacks.”
Many people did not get all four. I have no idea how many people did not get
any of the three that went out Friday, but I have talked to a number of them.
Curiously, I have talked to a number of people who got one of the Friday
articles, but not the other two.
I do not know what is causing this problem and this test run is intended to
be my own attempt at diagnosis and problem resolution. The general pattern,
before last week was as follows:
1. I click on “Send Now,” sometimes with great trepidation as in the case of
you know which article, and sometimes with anxious anticipation as in the
case of my YesMail article last summer.
2. Within minutes, say about 5 minutes, I get a first copy of the report back
to my AOL account. I also get a few of those “auto reply” notices from people
who are out of the office.
3. Then, between an hour and a half and two hours later, I get a lot of
“bounced mail” notices at my AOL account and two other copies of the report
at my email@example.com/tmr address (I use Eudora).
I delete the “bounced mail” notices so that they don’t clog up my box.
That has been the cycle.
Last week the processing pattern changed. I got a number of “bounced mail”
notices back in less than thirty minutes of sending, but far fewer than usual
and I got all four reports at my AOL account, but only the first two at my
other e-mail address.
So, something is obviously very wrong. Now, I have talked to the ISP and one
theory is that these “re-try” items have been slowing down the server and
forcing more and more resources to be shifted to sending re-tries. I think
that is logical, but it would not explain the structural changes in the
processing pattern. If this were the case, would it not be a matter of just
slowing things down, not altering them?
Mark at my ISP told me to wait 48 hours to see if the mail gets delivered.
The forty eight hours have passed and no mail.
I will be over at my ISP in person tomorrow morning to address this problem
so that I can send out all the other articles I had been planning to send
I will remove the bounced mail addresses from the list so that we can get it
cleaned up. Just to be certain that I have not removed a person who regularly
gets the report, but for some reason got bounced this one time, I will
contact these addresses separately to make sure we are not missing something.
Bob Ingersoll, old buddy, old pal, you have the dubious distinction so far
for having the most old addresses I have found. You have FIVE addresses from
previous jobs. I expect you to keep that job at Collatech, especially since
you got it through this report. I have been trying to clean up the list by
eyeballing it. I am removing only addresses that I know with certainty are no
longer valid. A lot of people have changed jobs since September 1997 when
this list began.
At my old ISP, Terraglyph, the listserv software removed an address
automatically when it was bounced back three times. I started with Forward in
April, 1999, and since then there has been no systematic clean-up. Their
sofware doesn’t do it and I have not done it.
The four articles I sent are on the web site now, under the archives.
1. Jan 5th article: http://www.192.168.1.100/tmr/archive/010500.htm
2. Jan 7th, first article: http://www.192.168.1.100/tmr/archive/010700a.htm
3. Jan. 7th, second article: http://www.192.168.1.100/tmr/archive/010700b.htm
4. Jan 7th, third article: http://www.192.168.1.100/tmr/archive/010700c.htm
I will be on higher ground to argue my case with the ISP if I do my part to
improve the situation.
This month’s issue of Red Herring Magazine which just hit this weekend has a
cover story on divine, with Flip pictured on the cover holding some puppet
strings. The subject of the article is the growth of “Eco-Nets,” short for
economic networks. This is the new word for the CMGI, ICG model.
Flip says it started in the bricks and mortar world with Warren Buffet.
Anyway, I have not read the article yet, but the first sentence refers to the
trusts at the beginning of the 20th century (man, that sounds weird to say).
It is truly history now.
The intriguing thing is how Upside Magazine did a similar article and did not
even mention divine. Yet Flip ends up on the cover of Red Herring. Wouldn’t
you like to know why? I will try to find out. Karen Andre, I guess you get
your job back.
I might note that Flip attended the Red Herring Venture Conference in late
October and may have even contributed money to it.
By the way, I have an interesting story to tell about how that $25MM
investment from Microsoft in divine took place. It involves, Neil Kane, Tom
Thornton, Dave Weinstein, moi, and a chain of events that shows just how
interconnected we are, but also just how fragile those connections can be.
Josh Schneider, you had a role in this too.
Meanwhile, you will read in tomorrow’s Crain’s about how the editor David
Snyder is moving over to take on their internet effort. I found out about
this on Thursday when one reader told me he would send a copy of the letter
David sent out to his circle of friends. It is somewhat revealing and there
is some cause for concern in that the editorial side and the business
development side are becoming increasingly enmeshed.
Here are a few sentences from his letter:
“…I will be taking on a new role later this month as General Manager of
Crain’s Internet operations — a position that will combine my strong
interests in journalism with a long-held desire to enter the business side of
the publishing industry. In my new post, I will be responsible for content
and new business development for our Internet site, including a major
relaunch of crainschicagobusiness.com later this year.”
“…this (position) affords an ideal opportunity to segue into the dot.com
world by expanding Crain’s franchise in the new media business.”
Sounds harmless enough, right? NOT. The problem with what David is saying is
very closely related to many trends in the way business, media, and the
Internet works, including the Zaibatsu, the trend of lawyers taking equity in
lieu of fees, and all sorts of other entanglements caused by the
consolidation in the media and entertainment fields (ABC owned by Disney,
Time-Warner, etc., etc.)
The traditional lines that keep some level of independence and objectivity in
reporting, for example, are becoming blurred. “Conflict of interest” has the
potential to become the new order of the day in about every aspect of human
An article in the January 10, 2000 issue of Fortune by Marc Gunther entitled
“Publish or Perish” attempts to deal with the issue of the future of
newspapers, but it also addresses the “breach of the customary wall between
news and commerce” as egregiously demonstrated by the recent L.A. Times
scandal in which the paper devoted a special issue of its Sunday magazine to
“L.A.’s new Staples sports arena, which secretly shared in the advertising
revenues from the magazine in exchange for sponsorship rights.” The upshot
was that the current publishers Mark Willes and Kathryn Downing ended up
getting a “public spanking” from the old publisher Otis Chandler, who called
their behavior “unbelievably stupid and unprofessional handling” of the
Professor Mohan Sawhney appears to be concerned about how these isses have
played out in structuring internet business relationships. Former Surgeon
General C. Everett Koop got into trouble last year over how his site had
financial relationships it did not properly disclose. I am not one of those
who believes that “full disclosure” solves the problem.
I think you have to be willing to pass up opportunities to make money in
order to maintain a thing called integrity. In the long run, that trust and
integrity factor is worth money, as Mohan repeatedly points out, using the
When it comes to Crain’s, I could cite chapter and verse. For instance, how
they selected the “Technology 100″ list in 1997 and then proceeded to sell
advertising and luncheon tables to the companies selected. Watch the
correlation between editorial content and advertising that already exists in
Yes, I know the story about Richard Notebart pulling Ameritech’s advertsing
in Crain’s, if my memory is correct. That story doesn’t prove that Crain’s
keeps the two strictly separate.
The problem is rarely with the big issues that come down to a matter of high
principle, it is usually the less noticeable work-a-day stuff. A few years
back, I was quoted in a few trade publications, (one of them was Network
World) and about a week later I got an advertising package in the mail,
suggesting that I advertise. This is common practice in trade rags, I have
But should Crain’s be doing that? I have heard that the publisher Gloria
Scoby is very focused on the advertising side.
If an article talks about a local firm, xyz corp., and a local entrepreneur,
and in the same article quotes a local publication that xyz corp. has
invested in, wouldn’t it make sense from a journalistic standpoint to state
that fact, along the lines of “an on-line internet publication in which xyz
corp. has invested”? Some of you will claim that I am being self-serving, but
I have asked a number of people for their opinions on this and the consensus
appears to be that such a statement would be good journalism.
If you don’t disclose that fact, are you not compromising the quality of the
reporting? I saw this happen recently in the “Top 10 stories of the
year”section in Crain’s.
In our age of euphoria about making money, we, the commercial republic,
appear to be forgetting the moral and ethical basis of our society. Would we
prefer to be “Silicapone”? Russia is living the consequences of unbridled
thuggery right now.
I know that concern for these things is considered to be out-of-fashion these
days, but I happen to believe that in an age of information saturation,
making the leap from information to knowledge and in turn from knowledge to
wisdom can be fueled by an understanding of ethical issues. That statement,
with a little work, could be almost eloquent. We have that expression, “It’s
not Kosher” referring to dietary laws in which meat and dairy products are
kept separate. You think the principles underlying the dietary laws could
contain some ancient wisdom about how we should run our business affairs?
Here is a note I got from Tony Lassono, whom I don’t think I know, but he is
a friend of Don Crabb’s and he gives a detailed description of his condition.
Subj: Don Crabb’s Condition
Date: 1/9/2000 5:43:40 PM Central Standard Time
From: Nude Hippo@aol.com
I was fortunate enough to be invited to his wedding and have recieved several
updates on Don’s condition…Don got a flu shot. Got sick. Almost 2 weeks
later, 1 night prioir to his wedding, went to the doctor and found that he
got an infection and Don was in intensive care and remained in Serious But
Stable condition with a great chance for full recovery.
I now just get my updates from WGNRadio.com, (instead of bugging Janet).
Don Crabb was supposed to get married on Saturday, December 4, but it didn’t
happen. He hadn’t been feeling well for several weeks and, while preparing
for the ceremony, he collapsed.
It was discovered that he was suffering from a blood infection which had also
lead to kidney failure. He was in critical condition for several days and
remained in the Intensive Care Unit for about a week.
The good news is that Don is feeling much better. He talked on the air with
Steve & Johnnie on Wednesday, December 29. He told them “I’m making a strong
recovery.” He’s currently in a rehabilitation center undergoing dialysis as
his kidneys return to their normal function (which they are doing). He’s also
going through physical therapy to regain strength after two weeks in a
Don told Steve & Johnnie that he is glad to be alive and he is grateful to
the people at Good Samaritan Hospital for saving his life. He says he has
lost a lot of weight and is feeling a lot healthier, and Steve & Johnnie
agreed that Don sounded much better than he did even a week ago. He hopes to
be out of the hospital by the end of next week. Don is looking forward to
getting back to work, but he’s taking the advice of Janet (his fiancee) and
making sure his health comes first.
We’ll continue to keep you posted. In the meantime, you can send wishes to
DonCrabb@wgnradio.com (although his e-mailbox is currently being overwhelmed)
or, better yet, mail them to Don Crabb, WGN Radio, 435 N Michigan Av, Chicago
It is my understanding that Don Crabb suffered a heart attack
and other serious health problems in early December. I heard about this for
the first time last Friday. Don was in the hospital. I know he was planning
to get married. I am trying to find out his current condition. We all wish
you the best Don and we hope for a speedy recovery. I will let you know what
I am able to find out. Janet Viann who organized the Workforce Conference in
October 1998 is Don’s fiancee’.
Tony “Tim” Lossano
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